Cool Stuff

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Love My Friends

As anyone who has read more then a post or two of this blog will tell you, I am pretty open about myself. I'll share my thoughts, feelings, activities and yea, some of the horrible, haunting experiences of my past. The positive stuff AND the stuff that doesn't make me look to good at times, all of it, all the time....That is basically what the blog was about: a recovering addict in everyday life. I didn't really know anyone else that wanted to open the door wide open to themselves, all the way like this so I settled on the only addict/alcoholic that I knew that might: ME.

I'm not special or unique in any way other then I'm an individual personality with a life all my own. I'm not some shining example...far from it as this blog has shown for over a year now. And yes, that was part of the show things the way they are, not someone's pre-conceived idea or stereotype of a recovering addict/alcoholic. I think that is actually being achieved and though I was weirded out a bit about being so open about myself, today I feel it is a responsibility since I have this forum to do this and continue to educate folks about addiction and recovery.

All that being said, there is a very important, yes critical part of my life that gets very little specific mention in this blog but I would NOT be alive today if it wasn't for them. I am referring to my family and friends.

Out of respect for their privacy I've rarely mentioned anyone of my friends by name. The same goes for my family though I have mentioned my daughter Chelsea, her boys Mason/Maddox (Maddy) and her husband Joel. I have also mentioned I have a son (I think he prefers if he stays rather anonymous here on SSS and that's cool) and I have referred to my Mother and Father who are both still very much a part of my life today. I also have mentioned a sister and her family living in the Dayton Ohio area.

I think I'm going to reserve a post someday for what my family means to me but I will be honest about something: I put each and every member of my family through HELL for a long, long time. And they are still here supporting me though there were times when things were awful between us. Over time things have come back together in a positive way but there was a time when that was not necessarily a sure thing...It is a credit to the kind of people they are.

What can I say about my friends. They are amazing, I love them and again...I would not be here if it wasn't for them. There are some of my oldest and dearest friends RVO/JVO from New Richmond. I'd be dead without you's a simple fact. I Love you both very much...

My many friends in recovery who have stood by me when I wasn't very pleasant to be around...some would insist that I'm still not very pleasant to be around but hey, that's another story!!

I have been a Christian for about 3 months. I have gone to Lockwood Church for 2 months and the members of that church have simply been incredible. I feel like I have known them all my life. They have supported me fully as I have gone through these medical problems and I would not have been able to do this without their help. They are wonderful and they walk the walk each and every day....

There are some special people in my life. My mentor in recovery who has been guiding me for nearly 4 years now. He is one of my best friends. I have another close friend, a former employer who has had a very special role in my coming to the Lord. One of the coolest and most important days of my life was the day a month or so ago when he helped Baptize awesome day!

I have other countless friends who have supported and encouraged me: Carol in Cali who is probably most responsible for this blog other then the author himself. She is the one who has encouraged me to write and to just be me. She was the first person to get me to believe, just a little in myself as a person and a writer. A wonderful friend who is on her way to being a world famous writer...just wait!

twodog: A pen pal in recovery, is a person I have never face to face yet her continued encouragement and support over the years has been more help then she will ever know.

And then there is best friend in the world. One of the most self-less people I've ever met. It's funny, a long time ago during our active addictions, we were in a relationship. A very destructive relationship to boot...But we were never as close as we are today in our friendship. Nobody understands this relationship...that's cool, she and I don't always either!! But we know it's real and I simply wouldn't have made it through this latest bunch of sh*t without her...Thanks K-Sue!

I have way too many friends to single them all out here...But I thank each and every one of you. You are simply the best. It is incredibly hard to put into words how this feels. Less then 5 short years ago, I basically had 2 friends that would still speak with me. Other then that only my parents would have anything to do with me. That was I can't even begin to name all the wonderful people in my life today.

That my friends is nothing short of a miracle....

Opera In The Lobby

I used to love taking trips when I was a kid. That love of travel has stayed with me most of my life and probably will never changed. What has changed is my bodies ability to roll with allb the changes. My heart/mind keep making plans that the old body struggles to complete yet I still enjoy it.

And part of me has looked at this trip to Rochester in that another trip. And there were parts I enjoyed...I met a few more recovering alkies/addicts. I always find the spots where we can get together..its a network of sorts.

And its cool because no matter where you are or who you are, we are all in this recovery boat together and that is really cool. You are accepted as you are. Its not like its aperfect sociey or something...its not. But you are accepted and that's cool.

One last thought tonight..when we were walking through the lobby at MAYO a bunch of people were gathered around the grand piano they have there on the lower lobby level. They have volunteers who play every day so there is always that wonderful sound floating up to the various balconies that surround that area. Well today 3 people were singing opera along with the piano...what an amazingb sight and sound. We stopped for a few minutes and listened the turned and walked Starbucks then.....home.


I promise, no more pictures or thoughts about goofy, brain-dead cartoon characters that get stuck in the brains of adults (some of who read this blog) and drive them freaking nuts for the rest of the day...

No today I suppose is about reality which is kind of weird because this past week has had kind of a dream-like quality to it. Though the waiting and the testing were all very real, living in a hotel, right in the middle of town (and a world renown medical campus)does have a strange, fantasy-like quality all it's own.

The time has come to go home...and I'm certainly ready for it. It is odd how I happen to process change like this. For example coming home feels a bit uncertain to me when it should (in my opinion)be something I'm really excited about.

I think the answer to that lies in the fact that we still don't have any real answers to the questions that brought me here in the first place. I've never been a person who is comfortable when things are really in flux. i prefer closure....I'm getting better in that area, more relaxed and patient but still I would rather be able to close the door on this chapter and get on with treatment.

But the world doesn't revolve around me, this i now know so I just have to wait my turn like everyone else. And ultimately thats OK with me.

This trip, as I've mentioned already has been good for me. I've learned a lot about myself and that is always a positive thing. It's cool to see how the world works outside my closed circle at home and this experience in Rochester/Mayo Clinic was a real eye opener.

The next post should be either from the road or from home. I sort of feel like an apology is in order because the last few weeks of posts have been full of whiny, boring posts recounting what I did during the day. Unfortunately it's what was on my mind most of the time.

Even though We have no definite conclusions on what is happening with my health, I still feel like much progress has been made so i close this post feeling hopeful and yea, I'm ready, ready to go home..

(PS-There isn't anything GOOFY or BRAIN-DEAD about BUGS!)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Freakin' BARNEY!

Last night here in Rochester. One more test tomorrow, kind a a freaky thing called a sweat test. They cover you in powder, roll you into a heat chamber and the stuff turns purple where you sweat. So I'll look like freaking Barney when I'm finished!!

Your supposed to get a shower when your finished, i hope so...I don't want to be driving back through all the toll booth around Chicago tomorrow evening looking like that goofy cartoon Character! What a trip.

Things here this week have gone very well. My only disappointment is that I have to come back for 2 days in April for the final Consults. We couldn't possibly do them this week still, it was just impossible.I'm really concerned about cost again because this whole thing was way more expensive then I expected it to be. I've had some help doing this which was quite frankly, unbelievable and I appreciate it. I would not have made it without it. I'm usually pretty realistic about these things but i missed the boat on this one big time.

Well, I'm going to do the best I can and I'll just have to see what happens. I'm optimistic...

This truly has been a good experience for me... I've learned a lot about my body and the human body in general. I've learned a great deal about this very special place. It is simply remarkable, it really is. I have also met many wonderful people...that is a huge part of what's so special here..the city itself and it's people. They truly are ONE with the MAYO Clinic...they come together.

I wouldn't have believed that really until I experienced it for my self...Time for a walk.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MBD (My Black Dog)

This is probably the low point of my time here at MAYO/Rochester only because I feel rotten from the Movi-Prep. I also had a visit from My Black Dog today and that hasn't happened in quite some time.

My Black Dog is a name I burrowed from Winston Churchill who used it to describe his debilitating bouts with Depression. I've called my down periods the same thing for years. I just feel this terrible sadness inside and for no obvious reason.

I think I'm just going through a natural down spot, even before I started doing the prep for the procedures scheduled tomorrow. It's all gone well here but it isn't easy and lets face it: It isn't HOME either. It gets harder and harder to be away from home so I think that is contributing to my mood as well.

I noticed first thing this morning that I wasn't enthusiastic about writing my early blog post like I typically am and they have been rather run of the mill in my opinion.

Well I'm going to sign off for the night. I'll see you on the other side of tomorrow...

Liquid Diet Day

Ach...liquid diet day. Honestly there isn't a good way to put a spin on it...I've been hungry all day and will be until the procedure is complete in the morning.

I'm seeing some light at the end of the tunnel...I should be heading home Thursday afternoon. There was no real way to get the consultations in before we left so I have to come back in mid April for a day. Thats cool, the results will be in and I can focus now on doing what I need to do.

I have to start the Prep for the test in a little while so it's going to be a really FUN night! Er...not really but this test is important and I definitely do not want to have to repeat it. So thats about it. I can never really predict how I am going to feel because I felt good all morning and all of a sudden I don't feel so hot. So this post ends here...

Another World

I had no idea that the original idea for Rod Serling's Twilight Zone came from his experience in Rochester, MN and the Mayo Clinic. Just kidding of course (I think) but it's the second time in just a few short days that I have felt like I have stepped into another world.

This is a strange life, living across the street from a hospital and Clinic where you go every day for testing and treatment. My whole life right now is totally geared to getting this stuff done. Honestly I couldn't have set this up in a more efficient manner if I tried.

My friends back home have absolutely taken care of my cat ZOE and the home front so I have no worries there at ALL. Can't really tell you how reassuring that is. I have already mentioned the many ways that the Mayo Clinic has been special so I won't repeat them here. It is just strange to get up in the morning and my treatment is all that matters. That is what is impossible to achieve at home, that total focus.

Today is lightly scheduled with appointments but from mid-afternoon on the prep begins for the Colonoscopy early tomorrow so I'll pretty much have to stay in my room after that. We will spend the remainder of the morning trying to fit in the appointments scheduled for April 5 and 12. The system is set up where you can go and get on a stand by list for appointments and that is what I have to do for those 3 appointments...unless I want to come back in a few weeks. So lot's of time in waiting rooms today.

So the morning will be interesting yet boring and the afternoon/evening will not be fun, if you've ever done Prep for one of these tests then you know what I mean! So off we go again for another days adventure in the medical Twi-light Zone...

Monday, March 28, 2011


OK...will power vs addiction equals no chance in hell, at least for this guy. And that really is the truth of it. I had an incredible amount of will power in every area of my life except when it came to my alcoholism/addiction. The American Medical association labeled Alcoholism officially a disease some time in the 1950's.

People often scoff at that and say it's an excuse...that's cool. They don't have to deal with MY alcoholism...I do. And approaching this alcoholism/addiction as a terminal illness that can't be cured, only kept in remission by total abstinence is what saves my life, each and every day. I'll take it!

My life is not only better in the obvious areas of not being in trouble say for drunk driving or like me being so down that suicide seemed to be the ONLY way out. But I just have a way of living, a spiritual life that is really fulfilling. I enjoy working with others and sharing my experience, strength and hope with the new guy, who still seems so lost and confused. It wasn't all that long ago that I felt the very same way....

I am still amazed what a little peace and serenity as a constant in a person's life will do to their outlook and personality. I care so much more about others...I used to think I did but honestly, I was always looking out for ME first. And often at the expense of anyone else.

I don't like living like that today, it just doesn't seem right. I believe deep down I felt that way back then too but my need to feed my addiction overwhelmed everything else. Even my desire to be a good person or a good friend. Tragic really and I pushed a lot of people away and destroyed some good relationships in the process.

The funny thing is though that I can revert right back to that selfish, self-centered behavior without ever taking a drink. That is why I am always talking about living according to certain spiritual principals of honesty, openness, service to others, etc...they are the things that keep me balanced and working at those things help keep me sober day to day as well.

It is a difficult process to explain to others and it is best learned over time. I was open minded about it only because I was beaten into submission by my disease. That is how most Alcoholics/Addicts get to the point where they will accept they have a problem then try and do something about it.

But that is just the beginning...willingness doesn't guarantee sobriety. Nope, it just means you have a chance, a lot of folks fail to stay sober though they've know for a long time that they are alcoholic. They just aren't capable of doing the necessary things they need to do EVERY day to stay sober.

And I've said this before the defeat, the getting our a**es kicked is necessary to get the addict willing and the Victory that I referred to over my addiction is a one day victory because we only get today. Tomorrow it all begins again. It truly is a day at a time thing for us addicts and alcoholics. I initially didn't understand that, thought it was weird but today I can see it quite clearly. That's all we get, a one day reprieve from our addiction.

The juices seem to be flowing on this subject the last two days so I'll leave more for later. But in closing I know in my heart that I tried to WILL myself to sobriety, I would have died before it happened. This is the only way I found life again. Does it work this way for everyone? I really don't know but I do know a hell of a lot of people that have found their daily reprieve this very same way...

This Day's Report

A Monday in Minnesota...
The morning tests went well, again the system of moving people from one station to the next is so efficient and surprisingly personal. They still manage to be friendly, helpful and treat everyone like a person.

The test this morning was a very different kind of CT-Scan then i have ever had before. Had to drink a really different kind of contrast before going in and getting the IV. Then they basically ran scans on every vital organ in my body. Checked lungs, liver, kidneys, Intestines, stomach...the whole works.

My body is holding up OK but after all the morning stuff I was exhausted. Came back to the room for awhile...still can't eat anything until the 2 tests this afternoon are complete.

So at 2p(CT) I'll head back up to the already familiar Gonda 18 East Desk, for more Pulmonary testing. These tests are much more involved then the stuff Friday..those were preliminary Baseline tests. I guess the second test today there is an involved exercise test, oh joy!

Well I can always use the exercise! Then that will conclude todays exams. To is less fully scheduled but the perfect opportunity to try and squeeze those consultations in so that's the plan. Wed. is the BIG day of tests...

Alright...then this concludes what has turned out to be a rather boring report on my day. I'll try to conjure up something more interesting this evening1

St. Pat's...

The morning person that is me is having a difficult time being much of a morning person...this morning. I'm crabby, basically. And it's hard for me to process much information, especially like time frames and schedules...critical kinds of things while I'm here.

Stress has been an issue for me like a lot of people for a long time. In the past I never thought about it much because in my mind drinking always too care of that kind of stuff. In sobriety, it's been different.

I've written before that when I sobered up I did not have a clue how to deal with my emotions. Which was very true and that combined with the stress that comes from daily life these days, well it created a potentially dangerous situation for me...first it compounded the stress and second I just got frustrated. That was a perfect set-up to drink again. Thankfully that didn't happen...

But the interesting part of all that was I had to learn constructive ways to deal with all that and one of them was meditation. Not the sit on the floor or lay down kind but I would just close my eyes, breathe and focus on one thing.

This morning I posted on a friend's FaceBook wall some ideas for things to do NYC. He and his family are going there soon and he asked for ideas. As I was writing I suggested St Patrick's Cathedral and that sparked a memory...and this post.

In my early days of trying meditation to try and relax, focus and deal with stress...I would just try and focus on pleasant memories, visualize them and continue to do relaxation was a struggle because my mind was racing a mile a minute. So I tried to eep it simple...Often I would visualize St. Pat's in NY, Westminster Abbey in London, the Old North Church in Boston or St John's Episcopal Church in Worthington, Ohio, my childhood church.

Looking back on that now I find it odd that I chose churches since I was so "anti-church" at that time. Yet I found a great deal of peace and serenity in those particular memories because I had found so much of the same when I visited those places. I actually still feel warm feeling today when I think about it.

For awhile I would spent a fair amount of time In NYC. And it's funny now that i think about it but whenever we would hook up with friends in the city, we would arrange to meet on the steps to St. Patrick's. So I have some nice memories of standing there, snow coming down and seeing friends make their way toward us through the crowds...a really neat memory.

I have a couple of lengthy tests today at the MAYO Clinic...I think I have an idea of what I may think about to keep myself relaxed....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Control And...DEAD

OK, I understand there are a lot of people who think this surrender to win type mind-set is a load of crap. I get that, people don't like to feel like they aren't in control. That's cool...for you. Not for me...I went down that road and FOR ME, this works. I'd rather be humbled and alive then ALL Powerful, in Control and DEAD!

For me in the situation that i was in, that was the deal. I had tried...for 30 years I wrestled my addictions and got my a++ handed to me every single time. It wasn't even close in the end. Let's face facts: I tried to kill myself and not only that, I was thinking about that as a solution to my life's problems for a YEAR before I tried. Not a good life, I'm here to tell you!

And that's it right there, that's the rub: I'm HERE, I'm above ground, sucking air, ALIVE. So I spit a the DEVIL and survived...I'm either one lucky bastard or GOD was looking after me even when I was saying and thinking despicable things about him and his followers. I'll choose the GOD scenario....

Well the Chuck Wagon Bell just rang so it's CHOW time. I guess that means that this post.....

Will Be Continued.


Sunday morning...and I feel like i'm living in the Twilight Zone. I can tell that I'm getting older because I used to like being away from home and living out of a suitcase. I'm just not as flexible anymore and prefer the routine's of home. Being SOBER might have a little to do with it as well....(You think!?)

Yea, I think! I was always looking to be anywhere but where I actually was. I was always running, even when standing still. Life was unsatisfying and deep down I believe I felt that if I moved around I would find something better.

The problem was, quite literally ME. So it makes sense then if i took ME wherever I was running to...the same problems would exist, right? Because I was the problem!

Of course I did not have the perspective of time and distance, to step back and see it for what it really was. Today it's obvious, back then...not so much. If anyone would have suggested that to me, I think outwardly I would have suggested they were NUTS but deep down I think I knew. But that was my emotional Kryptonite, I could NEVER, EVER admit that i was to blame.

So the charade continued on until the bitter end. Now of course I can see the scenario rather clearly. What I thought was to dangerous to admit, that I was the problem turned into the key that unlocked the door to freedom. Acceptance was the KEY to unlocking the chains of denial that were imprisoning me in my alcoholic/addictive HELL.

Once I admitted then accepted what I was, it was then possible to change. Changing was by no means easy but up to that point it was never even a possibility. But at least I could start to hope that maybe a solution existed from the torment of my addiction.

Ultimately it was my surrendering to the fact that I could NOT defeat the BEAST (addiction/alcoholism) on my own. It had kicked my a** and I was completely defeated. Although I had no clue at that time that this was indeed a GOOD thing. But the undeniable truth was that in defeat, I found victory!

To be continued...

Saturday, March 26, 2011


One of the odd yet interesting things I have noticed that since I left home to come here is I have spent very little time worrying about my condition. I'm simply too busy. But it creeps into your thoughts though. Having such a weird variety of symptoms makes going to a place like this really seem logical.

I'm a bit more forgiving now in my impression of the medical care back home. My personal Doc has been wonderful but the other physicians and Specialists had left a lot to be desired as had the local hospital and Clinical Techs/Specialists like Ct-Scan, X-Ray, Blood Work..nobody seemed to be working together. But since I've come here I don't see how anyone could compare.

I have had these odd sensations that I'm really talking and dealing with someone else's issues and not my own. I guess it's a way of detaching emotionally from the possibilities like Cancer, for example.

I don't want a Doc loosely throwing that term around with little or no justification yet if it is a possibility, then I want to know that. I do not want to be protected. No I really need to know the facts. And Cancer is the fear I'm dealing with right now. Obviously there are other things, some quite serious going on as well but the BIG C is the most worrisome, by far.

Anyhow, it has me pondering my end of life scenario again though it's very unlike the last time I thought seriously about that possibility. It's more matter of fact and focused on acceptance and yea, practical things then the last time. I don't feel morbid at all, I just think one needs to be realistic.

The timing of my spiritual experience brings a huge smile to my face. How can it not? I went through all that BEFORE I realized I was ill. I just love how this whole thing has happened and how I never have to feel alone again.And I don't...I just feel...taken care of, so why freak out, eh?

Thoughts From The 8th Floor...

It takes a little getting used to, this being on the road, living out of a suitcase in a hotel and living to go to medical appointments. But this city, Rochester is basically set up to accommodate people who are doing just that.

This is also an Internationally oriented community as well because there are MAYO visitors from all over the world. That makes it interesting as well...I love that about it. People from all walks of life, is an incredible melting pot. It can be sad because there are some very sick folks here but honestly, the mood is upbeat and positive.

It's pretty cool because I knew about the Mayo Clinic because my father was here for awhile but you really have no real idea until your here how big of an operation this really is. It's a massive set up with multiple buildings all connected by walk-ways and tunnels. The local joke here is they should send the administrators from MAYO to Washington DC to clean up the mess in government...It sounds like a good idea to me.

OK well my mind is kind of wandering...not a lot happens on the weekends here. I have some self-administered tests that I have to do this weekend and that can be a hassle but it's all part of figuring this thing out. Time to catch up on some reading...

Morning in Minnesota

Sitting here with a few friends I've met already in rochester. What a friendly town...someone mentioned to me before I got here that everyone was so nice. Well it sure seems to be true.

There are several treatment centers. In the area plus Mayo has a recovery/mental health program. So it wasn't hard to get in touch with the recovery community..its really been kinda cool.

Today will be a rest day for the most part. The hotel has a pool/whirlpool in a dome on the roof which is wild. I'm going to try and soak some of this pain away.

Anyhow...happy Saturday every one!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Bells Of Rochester

I sit here at the desk in my room, 8th floor of the Kahler Grand hotel in Downtown Rochester, MN. The room looks out over the street and right at the MAYO Building. The room is really small and stuffy, they have the air turned off so the windows have been open a lot. And it's 22 degrees outside! But it isn't cold in the room, it's weird.

Anyway, since the windows are open I have really discovered something cool about this city. At 4 and 5pm the bells of all the local churches ring in beautiful harmony. It's awesome and I'm really enjoying listening to them. I'm not sure I would have noticed if the windows had been closed so it was really cool.

So it was quite a treat to walk home from the Red Lobster down the road (where I had my first meal of the day) and hear those bells ringing all over the brought a smile to my face. A really nice way to end the day....

So the medical journey is under way and things are going OK. I'm a bit tired and sore but I feel really good about the situation here. Now I'll have the weekend to settle in, it's going to be a long haul. Well I'm heading out to meet up with some buddies in recovery. Yea, they got 'em in Minnesota to....

ECHO In The Afternoon

As you may gather from the picture I am getting an Echo Cardiogram...whoa that was one of the most intense ultrasounds I've ever had. Pretty cool to lay there and watc,h the old ticker do its thing...

Well the first day of tests is coming to a close...Moday, Tuesday, Wed. and Thursday of next week are very heavily scheduled with Fridaay open to try and squeeze my 3 final consultations now scheduled for April 7, 9 and 12 in before heading home.

Hey man I appreciate all the good wishes and stuff I'm getting via FaceBook and email. I'm a dude that just a few years ago really had no friends...I had pushed or scared them all away except RVO/JVO: a couple of amazing peeps and friends that never gave up on me although they probably should have!

Well the Doc should be in soon so off I go....

New Chapter

I have been waiting quite a long time for this day to happen. I'm certainly ready for the questions to start getting answered. We'll see.

I don't know about anyone else but fasting like this for tests has gotten really difficult...I just feel so dry and dehydrated. If I don't continually think about it I am just as likely to pick up a water and start slugging it down out of habit.

In the past I've been frustrated and somewhat critical of doctors...not unusual when you have to deal with so many of them as I have had to do over the years. Starting right now I am clearing my mind of all that negative experience and trusting them to do there thing...I am still optimistic as for the results.

Well, this journey begins a new chapter here this morning..

Thursday, March 24, 2011

OK GOD, I know...

This afternoon I did a lousy job of trusting my Lord and Savior. I tried to snag all the control and handle everything on my own. It wasn't pretty....In like 30 minutes I was a stressed out emotional mess and my medical symptoms were going totally haywire.You would have thought that I learned that lesson countless times before. Nope I suppose I needed another dose of self-inflicted misery to remind me that I can't do this ALONE.

OK GOD, I surrender. I have stated many times before here on Shell Shock that recovery is really a lifetime process and today proves it perfectly. I can revert back to old behaviors, thoughts and attitudes without blinking an eye. I dealt with some adversity this afternoon and it was like everything I have learned about life and trusting God meant nothing. I freaked, I didn't handle myself very well and honestly I'm humbled by how quickly that happened.I was pretty unkind to one of the people who have dropped everything in their life to help during this tough time. I'm sorry Kim, I ignored the Lord and acted like a jerk!

Well all I can say is I learned some life lessons today and I can honestly say I made some mistakes. I'll do my best to learn and move on.

I learned that GOD has been watching over me and has never let me down. He has given me wonderful, caring friends who have been prying and looking out for me too. I know a great many people are praying for me..that fact blows my mind. It's humbling but what a blessing to have such friends today.

The fun begins in the morning, 7a Central Time. I just had my last supper (Not THE Last Supper!)before I fast for testing tomorrow. I know where I'm headed, have already checked in this afternoon so off we go. We'll keep you updated....thanks everyone!

Don't Read, It's a Downer..

Well I'm here in Rochester and since I've arrived it has been a bit of rough sailing. We got in OK but several things have gone a bit out of kilter so it's a little more stressful then I would have expected. My only hope is they can figure out tomorrow or Monday at the latest whats going on so we can head back home. I had actually thought about driving back home for the weekend but I don't believe that will help much. The reality is I can't afford to stay here very long...the expense is just too much and naturally I'm worried about it. I'm a worrier, I know that....there is a reason for it this time, trust me.

I feel pretty rotten this afternoon after feeling really good all the way up here this morning. It's physical and not related to stress though that never helps. I'm sure getting tested right now and I suppose I'm not fairing so good...

OK, so I have to think positively. The good thing is I have no appetite so I don't have to worry about eating. I have to fast after 7p anyway for the initial blood work and stuff in the morning. things just seem a little confusing right now and after the long drive I'm thinking I'm just exhausted.

I'll cut this off too since it doesn't feel very productive but I suppose I'll post it for the same reason I always pathetic as it is, this is the way I feel some times and it needs to be represented that way on Shell Shock.

I think I'll try to clean up and maybe we'll try again later....

Rockford Illinois

On the road again...yep we are just north of Rockford and headed into Wisconsin....traffic through Chi-Town was hppoing even at 5:30a there time but no issues. Now we should be able to coast some now. Now I'm just annoyed by the morning sun shining in my face..eventually we should head west and that pesky sunshine will be behind me.

Got up around 3a and hit the road before 4a...freezing rain/snow part of the way which wasn't too bad. Just crossed into Wisconsin...the Great White North though there isn't any snow its just cold and freaking windy!

Next update I hope will be from the hotel where I can get into a bit of a routine...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ready For The Fight

Ahh, I've got my blood up. I'm ready for a fight. I'm tired, sick and tired of letting my health dictate what I can and cannot do. I know there will be some frustration and waiting involved in this process at Mayo but just going and getting started has energized me.

So I'm ready to rumble, hit the road jack and all that. I will admit and this sounds sorta nuts but hey, that's me! I kinda take this whole trip as a vacation of sorts. I was just telling a friend earlier that I love to travel so I'm going to enjoy what I can. I'm a little leery because some of my symptoms are not good to have while you are in a car but we'll have to deal with them if they happen.

It is a long ride but it's also a trip that I've never made by car so it's new sights almost all the way after Chicago. So that's the key, take this whole experience as a journey..i have to go so don't just make the best of it...make it a blast. Thats what we'll do. Of course I'm pretty weak so a blast maybe spending an hour in the pool but hey, I don't have a pool here so BONUS!

I know I'll be blogging quite a bit but I want to take a moment and thank everyone who has commented and emailed me during this whole ordeal. I appreciate it very much. It all helps...every comment, every single's all good for the soul and keeps me going, I thank you all once again!

So I'm ready to roll....I do feel that God has gotten his big old bulldozer out and smoothed away so many obstacles, it just feels right. So it's more then likely the next post you'll get from me will be through my mobile device while on the road or once I get to Rochester tomorrow afternoon. See you then...

Last Night's...

Post. Yep last night's post definitely is one that falls into that category that I want to delete. It wasn't my finest hour. It clearly was a moment of doubt...I was hurting and those things like fear, pain and uncertainty kick in and derail the serenity that had been there just minutes before.

As usual...I'm leaving it as posted. I think there are times in this blog when I've been writing about recovery that I may come across as having it all figured out. I don't...I'm not even close and this post just reinforces that notion.

I am but a man who is frightened and hurting. My reactions to those realities change throughout the course of a day. I'll go from feeling the way I did last night to acting defiant, like nothing is wrong and never will be. At other times I'm just quietly grateful to be alive. So my moods obviously are in flux...big time!

I know that once I head out on the road tomorrow, things get simpler. So I just need to work my way to that point and all will work out.

I intend to post from the MAYO Clinic and during this trip as much as I can. I'm hoping to bring the good old EPIC 4G into treatments with me. We'll see if I can swing that.

Off to town this morning so take it easy and see you soon...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What I Feel Right Now..

I feel as ill right now overall as I ever have in my life. I mean I've been momentarily sicker, violently ill, throwing up but from the perspective of my whole body, the whole entity and my overall well being..I have never felt so completely ill.

I have severe pain and bloating in my lower abdomen,I have these sweat episodes where I break out in a total sweat, soaking the clothes I'm wearing. With these episodes comes a wave of fatigue like I've NEVER felt before. I can hardly function.

I urinate about every 10-20 minutes no matter how much or how little fluid I drink. In the latest test I put out just shy of 2 gallons of urine in 24 hours. I have severe headaches...never had those before. I am dehydrated...I always feel SO dry, the the desert dry.

I still have severe symptoms of Barrett's Esophagus, acid reflux coming back up from my stomach. That will be operated on when I get home from MINNI. I itch all skin is so dry from dehydration, it is quite the unpleasant feeling I assure you. I sweat, I ache, I itch...I'm short of breath and I wheeze all the time. I'm peeing constantly and I double over without warning when the pain shoots through my abdomen. It's not much of a good time, this being sick thing...

All these symptoms are in addition to the daily issues that come with my back, neck and hip disabilities. I feel like I fell out of a tree, like 5 minutes ago and I keep falling out every hour on the hour! ACH, I often feel like those symptoms I just described and the itchy, sting, sharp pain in my gut thats going on right now will drive me over the edge. I have sweat dripping off me right now for no reason. My entire head is wet like I ran water over it.

Sometimes I find that I can't feel my hands or lift my arms. Stuff like that happens and what does my mind do? It tells me I'll never cast another fishing rod in my life. No golf swing, no catch with my grandsons....that is part of the fear I described earlier.

Do you realize that I do not know what feeling normal is...I just don't. I have felt sh*tty for so long....I don't like living like this. It is more then I bargained for...I don't want to feel like this any more but what can I do except suffer through it. It pushes me right to the edge, this frustration and helplessness..yes, powerlessness.

Don't get me wrong...I am so grateful to be going to Mayo...I know they'll find out what's wrong but I still worry. Staying in hotels is expensive and I constantly worry that I won't have enough to make it. I can stay 7 nights and have gas there and back but have very little money left to eat. I guess it's an act of faith and I have to watch it. If it gets close I'll have to check out and leave.

Thing is they might diagnose me in two days and then I'm on my way home with money to spare. I'm fortunate that I have enough to go and stay.

That was just a synopsis of what I feel and think in just a snapshot of my point of view and my thoughts. I do trust God...I do pray for the strength to endure. But I also believe that I have to be responsible, be frugal and make sure I can do this. Anyway I'm leaving tomorrow morning so I best just accept it...

In the time it took to write this, I weathered another sweats attack and extreme fatigue. So the night is looking up...


I went to a place once on the Battlefield of the Somme, it was called the Sunken Road and lay just in front of the British Front lines the Morning of July 1st, 1916. The German yards were just a few hundred yards away on a ridge called Hawthorn where the Germans had built a strong hold of trenches, machine guns and fortifications. Often these were call redoubts. The British had tunneled under this particular strong hold on Hawthorn Ridge and blew a huge amount of explosives in a mine just before the general offensive began on that July Morning. It killed hundreds of Germans, literally blowing the whole fortification up in the air.

Of course like everything else that happened to the British at the Somme, this attack failed miserably, costing the British Troops (including Canadians, Aussies, Newfound-landers, New Zealander's, etc) 60,000 casualties in ONE DAY. The battle dragged on all Summer through the Fall until November when it petered out in the cold, wet mud of early Winter.

Anyway as I stood in that Sunken Road that had held troops shortly before they went over the top to storm the Hawthorn Redoubt shortly after the mine was detonated, I got the strangest feeling that I had been there before. I hadn't of course but when I was a boy I used to dream of trenches and rat's, gun powder and being buried alive. All realities during time in the trenches on the Western Front of the Great War.

It really sparked some weird revelations that perhaps...maybe, humans did live before. Honestly I never totally reconciled myself either way on reincarnation but it really did give me a different perspective on what those lads must have thought and felt.

One of the pictures above is a still shot taken of those troops as they waited in the Sunken Road that morning. Most of those boys shown in that picture only had 15 minutes to live. I've always wondered how you face that kind of fear. Faith? Sure I'm sure a lot of those fellows had taken communion with their chaplains prior to heading into the front lines a day or two before.

Or was it mindless obedience? I don't know...I know that right now I am faced with uncertainties about my health, about my future but facing it is natural because I have nothing to lose. Perhaps they felt so too...they were there...they had to go. Running to the rear meant being shot or arrested and sent back to the front.

I suppose this was just the way it was and they had to they did. I have always been fascinated with how we humans face the ultimate end for all of us in this life: death. I suppose I have always tried to look at it as a natural part of life. Of course there was a time in my life when I tried to take my own life but honestly my memories of that time are unclear and the thinking was not rational. I was drugged up all the time and trying to run from life.

Not sure why I'm writing this...I came across a picture of the Great War and it just got me thinking....